Category: Vacation

Top 10 BEST Tips to Get Road Trip Ready

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Our family vacations always include road trips to reach our destination. As a family with young children it is MUCH more affordable than flying and with these top ten BEST tips, hopefully painless.

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We just spent 18 glorious hours in the car together as a family. Thankfully that was just the trip total. With a little planning ahead of time you can make ANY road trip successful with these tips.

Snacks & Bottled Water

When people get hungry, they get HANGRY. At least that’s life in our little family. As a food-allergy family that means taking extra time to pack tons of “non-messy” snack options. This usually includes two boxes of dry cereal and four tupperware containers full of Food Allergy-Friendly Trail Mix. Delicious and Nutritious.  Baby Food Pouches- Pumpkin for Raymond and Apple for Emma Marie are a sure way to not make a mess and are easy to store.  We always plan to grab lunch on the road at our halfway point… milkshakes in the middle of the desert have never tasted so good! I always try to pack a few goodies that help hold us over for thirty more minutes… like rice krispy treats which are sold in a disastrously large box at my favorite big box store. We always pack up our water bottles and add in two extra water bottles per person. This is where my husband wants to let you know to bring an empty one in case of emergency. I guess you’ve been warned.

 

Emergency Kit

Better safe, than sorry. Our road trips take us into the middle of the desert where service stations are 60 miles a part or more. Worst Case Scenarios can be made just a little better with some items that could tide you over until help arrives-or can even help you get to safety. Our Homemade Kit includes: Flares, Flashlights, Safety-Vest, First Aid Kit, Fix-a-Flat, Blanket, Snack Bars, and even more water bottles. We crossed the desert before the real summer heat kicked in, but we always error on the safe side.

 

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Superhero Masks

I don’t think I’ve laughed harder, nor longer while traveling out through the desert. My husband and two children wore various sets of Superhero Masks throughout our travels and stayed true to character while re-enacting their famous lines. Emma Marie proudly wore the Hulk mask and chanted, “Hulk SMASH!”, while laughing maniacally. She is my daughter. My husband, Bat Dad, as he likes to be referred to while in character quietly dispersed snacks and tidbits of wisdom on the trip, all the while tweeting people’s reactions to passing Batman in a Honda Pilot. Raymond maintained composure and kept reassuring us the, “Everything is going to be fine,”.

Laughter is a gift. One that serves you well on hour six with a one and three year old.

Oil Change

I take my car maintenance seriously. I took auto-shop when I was in high school and know exactly what it looks like when you don’t treat your car like a machine… it breaks, badly. We saw time and again how much damage it would cause an engine to be low on oil or worse be run on dirty oil for long periods of time. We always, always take our cars in to get oil changes before road trips and when the mileage mandates.

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Walmart Automotive Care Center

I know what a difference the next level up means in car care from first hand experience. Unfortunately, sometimes people are told that they always need to get “fill in the blank” fixed and therefore paying just a bit more for the oil change seems like just another rip-off. It’s not. Your car will treat you the way you treat them. Although most cars are quite fine with the basic oil-change, as long as it is done regularly-I know that my car(which we are keeping FOR-EV-ER-Sandlot Style with a flashlight-Google it) performs better with the Platinum Pennzoil Oil Change from my neighborhood Walmart.

Pennzoil-oil-selection-at-walmart-auto-center PENNZOIL-PLATINUM

SALE ALERT

From June 10th – September 9th, Pennzoil oil changes will be on Rollback at Walmart Automotive Care Center stores.

  • High Mileage $35.88, compared to the regular Walmart price of $39.88. {Industry standard price is $46}
  • Platinum Full Synthetic $45.88, compared to the regular Walmart price of $49.88. {Industry standard price $66}

I get all of my Road Trip Shopping done, while my car gets an oil change. Some things that you may not know about Pennzoil-

  • All Pennzoil products help clean out sludge lesser oils leave behind.
  • Pennzoil is designed for complete protection and will allow you to drive an extra of 550 miles per year vs. a dirty engine.
  • No other motor oil provides better protection from friction.

It should be noted that while my Pilot receives the Platinum Oil Change, our Prius(another car for life) received the Conventional Package until we hit over 75,000 miles and are now on the High Mileage Vehicle Oil.

It pays in the long run to keep your car running and healthy. A little bit of planning and oil can go a long way.

Tire Pressure

Keeping your tires to the correct pressure can save you at the gas pump. We always fill-up our tires the day before at the corner gas station while we fill up the tank. Please make sure you fill up your tires to the correct pressure. Under and Over inflation are seriously dangerous. Our car goes 75-85 MPH on the freeway and the desert heat makes things much touchier and could cause a blow-out. Keep your love ones safe and check this regularly.

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When life hands you a screaming one year old? Chant: I think I can… Desperate times folks.

You will arrive at your destination.  Emma Marie thinks she is singing, bless her heart, but to everyone else it sounds like she is having an epic, EPIC meltdown.

Gas Stations

Our Road Trips take us through many deserted deserts where there are 85-90 miles between rest stops and civilization. Unless you carry around another tank of gas for emergencies(we don’t), you will need to plan ahead on your route. As we cross state lines on our trip we make sure to always fill up on the cheaper side. We save over 30-50 cents a gallon that way. Plus you need to make sure that when you hit those large pockets of the lonely open road that you have enough in your tank to get you to the next stop. It may sound like common sense but we saw at least five people walking with gas tanks to their vehicles. Know your route.

Rest Stops

With a potty trained three year old we were quite concerned about giving him enough options while on our Road Trip. Two years ago all of the Rest Stops were closed down in our State and that led to some interesting road-side stops in the desert. We are beyond thankful that they are back open and we stopped every two hours on our trip to give our family a break. No accidents on the trip, but one close call on a Toll Road in California… you can’t exit a toll road and get back on without incurring an extra fee so we just used the very large median and were thankful for the wooded area. My husband thought the empty bottle trick might work, but we couldn’t get a straight answer out of our preschooler on which way that trip would go… so woods it was.

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Remember there IS a reason you are traveling.  Find your happy spot.

Entertainment

Our family is a little young for typical Road Trip Games like the License Plate Game, Slug Bug, and Travel Bingo(although I will be printing out one for next time) so we packed the Superhero Masks. Please let it be known that those were worth their weight in gold. My husband also loaded up the iPad with movies that were “kind to the ears”- nothing I hate more when driving for hours is listening to a movie that isn’t easy on the ears-giving a big ole mean stare at Cars-Lightening McQueen just isn’t awesome to listen to… SO Finding Nemo, Frozen, and Toy Story were our Mom Approved Options. All were enjoyed throughout the trip.

Baby Wipes & Trash Bags

There are a multitude of things you can clean with baby wipes… and we always pack two boxes for in the car.  Always.  Plus as a food-allergy parent it helps to clean off “suspect” traces of food on tables at rest stops or restaurants. Bleach or Cleaning wipes do not remove food allergens.  Who knew?  Chalk it up to another reason we bring these bad boys with us.  On our Family Road Trip three years ago, one hour from home just as we hit the open desert Raymond projectile puked and literally filled up his car seat with GOO.  Apparently, his reaction to eggs(unbeknownst to us at the time) became more severe with every encounter and a small bite of a hard boiled egg rendered our small Prius a disaster zone.  Baby Wipes to the rescue!  Blow out? The diaper kind? Yes, those are in a league of their own.  That is another reason we keep a small container of plastic bags to dispose of problems that arise on our trips.

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The Whole Beach We Brought Back

Start with a Clean Car

My husband is adamant about starting with a clean car on each of our Family Road Trips.  He cleans it out-top to bottom.  I do not have the foggiest idea why you would want to take the time to clean out your car BEFORE you go on your trip. Okay, perhaps it is nice that it doesn’t smell like three day old shoes(that somehow got forgotten under the seat) and that there is a nice clean place to put all of my diet cokes… because caffeine is my friend when I’m driving.  We sure brought the whole entire beach back with us… but I must admit, climbing into the car being squeaky clean isn’t that bad.  Especially when I didn’t have to do any of the cleaning.  Chalk it up to being the driver!

 

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Our Family Road Trip was a complete success and I would like to thank these Top Ten Tips to getting Road Trip Ready.  The list above is my mental checklist whenever we start to plan and pack for a trip with our family.  Our trip to visit California, see family, and of course visit the Happiest Place on Earth was wonderful!

I shared my favorite tips to getting Road Trip Ready.  Now I would love to hear from you!

What are some tips and tricks that work for you on road trips?

What adventure are you off to this summer?  Visiting family?  Perhaps a trip to see Minnie? 

 

Would love to hear from you!

 

A DAY at Disneyland: Tips & Tricks

Last year we DID Disneyland in a DAY with our baby and toddler.  Over 17 hours worth of fun without one single tantrum nor tear.  As we rode the tram home after the fireworks display late that night my husband and I HIGH-FIVED each other and chalked it all up to good old-fashioned planning.

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A Day at Disneyland: Tips & Tricks
Disneyland

A DAY at Disneyland: Tips & Tricks

MEALS

ADR (Advance Dinner Reservation) – cuts wait times down to 5 minutes(or no wait-can I get a high-five?) instead of the typical 40-50 minutes and get in to Disneyland Park BEFORE it actually opens for the public.  Rockstar Status.  Can also get Character Meets done as well.  We ate at the Plaza Inn(in Disneyland) and were able to take pictures with characters who came around to our individual tables. We ALWAYS bring a ton of dry cereal, baby food pouches, camelback water bottles(easy to refill), and rice-krispy treats.  For dinner our MUST for every visit is Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue.  Delicious, finger-licking good time.  Drinks flowing(hello Diet Coke) in large mason jars, a live band(great for kids to watch), and all you can eat BBQ, corn, beans, and cornbread. Plus being tucked away from the crowds of the parades(during dinner time) is most pleasant-surrounded by cool pine trees.

Or – save time and money and bring your own food. You can eat snacks while waiting to board rides; just be ready to store those snacks. See Fanny Pack.

RIDES

Road Map to Rides – Check height restrictions, make a list of which rides are a must. My husband made a spreadsheet. Don’t forget about Baby Swap(Rider Exchange)! Hello secret path through Indiana Jones! Know which ones are Fast Pass and USE THEM. A lot of the kids rides have a large line and no fast pass… know which ones are height and AGE friendly for your family before waiting.  Little known secret for tiny tots?  The ride hidden behind the Splash Mountain Exit NEVER has a wait and is baby and toddler friendly.  The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. LOVED being able to ride that a couple times with two EXTREMELY happy little ones.

FANNY PACK

I’ve worn one in each adult trip I’ve taken.  At first I’ve had a few snickers and a couple call outs BUT when they are asked to store their backpack after they’ve waited an eternity to get on a ride? Payback? Knowledge is power.  You can ride EVERY SINGLE RIDE at Disneyland while wearing a fanny pack.  The same sadly can not be said for the much cooler looking cousin, the back pack.

Snacks, Epi-Pens(crucial for us), Cell Phone, Keys, Tickets. BOOM.  Always with you.  Please remember to bring a ziplock bag to store your cell phone in(in the fanny pack) because you can AND WILL get wet on Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain(does that really need to be written?) and by a wayward toddler trying to “help” you with your water. Inevitable.

Last year I forgot my precious Ergo in the car(and it is a TREK to go back to the car) and goodness my back paid the price.  Babywear for the WIN! 

Strollers are necessary.  Our baby and two year old took multiple naps throughout the day.  Plus we just “parked” our stroller outside each ride with about fifty of it’s stroller friends and never had a problem.

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POWER

Bring extra power – Disney doesn’t have Wi-Fi and some rides bring you deep underground with no cell signal (battery drain). Peace of mind you won’t run out for families who may separate and need to communicate.  There were many times where we split up to take our toddler on a ride and for me to go to the Baby Care Center to feed the baby in peace and quiet.   Also would be bad if you were depending on your phone for pictures! Don’t forget to LIVE in the moment though.  Technology is not an end all.

 

FAMILY PHOTOS

Memories – Use Disney Photo Pass(for a price) – no cameras required and pro quality pictures with no obligation to buy online later BUT can get pricey. Bring your own camera and let the photographers use it!  I did not feel at all shy about giving my camera to the pros to get a picture of our family ALL DAY LONG.  They are photographers and we paid good money to get into the park.  Plus all of them were more than happy to help.

 

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NAPS

Nap Time – … kids may not be willing take a nap until their eyes are too heavy to keep open. Make plans mid-way through the day for a quiet, sensory-limited break. That is why we NEVER make a meal reservation for lunch.  Snacks and watching the Jedi Training Academy(1, 2 or 3 times in a row) is a great way to decompress AND for you to go on Star Tours while the kids are relaxing.

TRANSPORTATION

If not staying at the Resort –  Buy tickets/parking pass online and print out ticket – skip a line and go straight to the park entrance. They will exchange the print out for a fast pass ticket. If you are not bringing a car, use ART (get it from hotel concierge) an easy-to-use bus system that my husband and I have used on baby-free trips.

 

CALL

Call Disney – Extremely friendly, knowledgeable staff and will answer any question! (714)781-4636

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FREE SOUVENIRS

Free Souvenirs – Get the Buttons – First Disney Trip, Birthday, Honorary Citizen of Disneyland, Family Reunion, Happy Anniversary, Just Engaged, Just Graduated, Just Married….there are even more from City Hall and any of the shops on Main Street.  Ask a cashier.

Also get a Jungle Safari Map – just ask one of the tour guides. Speaking of Jungle Cruise.  It is the FIRST ride we go on.  Everyone in the park makes a BEELINE for Indiana Jones and we just grab our fast pass for Indiana(or rider swap-MUCH faster) and then get onto a boat for a hilarious ride around.  Every single trip at Jungle Safari brings different jokes.  Last year while holding the baby on my lap I forgot about a certain part that JUMPS out at you and nearly lost my marbles.  Lucky that Emma Marie thought it was hilarious.  Message me if that information is need to know.

COFFEE

Starbucks on Main Street- not advertised at all and it’s probably the fanciest one we’ve ever been to. Crucial for our 7th inning stretch before fireworks.

APPS

Disneyland Map Apps – find everything and anything; from rides (wait times), food, bathrooms and character locations. There are free and pay versions. We didn’t use the free version while in the park much, but it was helpful to find the Starbucks. See above.

 

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In a week we will be traveling back to California for a vacation and a DAY at Disneyland with our toddler and preschooler.  Our tickets are purchased, parking pass printed, and the fanny pack is ready!

Our breakfast at the Plaza Inn and dinner at Big Thunder Mountain Barbecue are BOOKED.  Plus- if you have food allergies and you book two weeks in advance they are more than willing to accommodate you and will work to make sure your meals are safe and MAGICAL.  Each time we have had the Head Chef of both restaurants come out and welcome us, letting us know that they are making our meal.  Not having to worry about life-threatening food allergies?  Now THAT is another reason that Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth.

 

What is your NUMBER ONE tip for Disneyland?  

 

Would LOVE to hear about your experiences!  Please let me know if you have any questions and don’t hesitate to shoot me an email.

 

Fanny Packs Anonymous UNITE

 


 

NW Vacation: Recap


Happy Monday All!!!

We had a fabulously relaxing weekend as a family of three.  OH- and I can not wait to share with you the details of Baby Girl’s Sprinkle from Saturday! Little One isn’t even here yet and already she is so loved! Very blessed indeed.

As you can tell time is flying by and I want to make sure I share the last of our adventures in the Pacific Northwest before our little one makes her appearance.  

The Toddler and I enjoyed our two weeks by playing outside. All. Day. Long.  We played in Nana’s backyard, at the local parks, even squeezing in a couple beach days.  I even remember remarking how cute he looks in clothes.  Real clothes. The desert has proven to be too hot for clothes. Which frankly, any toddler is fine with. 

Here are some of the memories and moments from our summer trip to WA. So happy we got to spend so much time with Nana and Aunt Rachel! 

NW Vacation: Beach Day

Let me tell you how much this makes my heart melt… the Toddler LOVES the beach but not more than he LOVES his Nana and Aunt Rachel! We had a blast the second time at the beach.  The heat wave was starting to hit Seattle and it was a perfect day to get some quality time on the rocky shore.  

Nana taught D how to throw rocks in the water- little man loved watching them splash!  

OH- and this time we were all prepared for walking in the water.  Last trip up to see our Great-Nani, the Toddler decided to run straight into the water- on a 65 degree day- in 50 degree water. Poor Nana had to run in after him… thanks Mom! : )

The Toddler was all about holding onto hands and exploring the beach.  We even got to play with more squishy’s today after the tide started to roll out.

Nana also introduced him to the little crabs that scurry around at low tide.  Boy thought they were interesting, that they tickled his hands, and that they just might be scrumptious.  Lucky for the crabs that they are faster than my little man. Very lucky indeed.  

I am just so proud that he is willing to explore the beach, like my sister’s and I did when we were little- completely oblivious to cold water, loving crab hunting, throwing rocks, and even squishing all the little squishes! 

20 Months Munchkin Meals: Airport Travel

Time for another Munchkin Meals thanks to Brittany over at A Healthy Slice of Life! On the first Thursday of every month she hosts a Munchkin Meals Link-Up Party- which enables me to look through tons of great meal ideas to change things up with my Toddler.

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The Toddler STATS

20 Months Old- 36lbs Strong- 37 Inches Tall

HATES anything with sugar in it- seriously.

LOVES fresh vegetables, fruit and white chicken chili.

19 Month Munchkin Meals
18 Month Munchkin Meals

Currently we are working on saying “please” and “thank you” at the correct times-along with using the sign for those words.  He can drink from a regular cup, use a fork and spoon and let’s us know when he needs more of a certain favorite-like his current favorite white chicken chili-or if he is all done with his meal. He sits in a regular chair at the table for all of his meals- for lack of an adequate high chair- he broke the solid wood one we had- apparently too heavy for it-awhile back. He uses real plates and silverware, but I am sticking with plastic cups for now.

We just returned from a two week stay with family up in the great Pacific Northwest and thought it might be interesting to document what he ate on one of the days we traveled.

How to Cope with Flying with a Toddler
Flying with a Toddler: Mom Migraine Stopper

DIAPER BAG ESSENTIALS:


This all fits in the diaper bag. Truly.

Wallet & Shot Records- to prove he is mine. Plus a letter from my OB that stated I could fly in case TSA tried to keep me from flying home to the desert at the end of our trip.

The Toddler’s two FAVORITE books- can’t you tell? So much loving wear on them. PLUS-this was the first time I had technology on one of our flights! One of our friends downloaded Cars and Finding Nemo for us- it helped during times when other kids on the plane had meltdowns. And I can not tell you how many times I read those books on the plane.

Diapers-Wipes-Boogie Wipes-Band aids-Wet Bag-Tide-to-Go Stain Eraser-Hand Sanitizer = Necessary

What?!? 20 Months old and he still takes a bottle? Yes- only at night-but for how “scary” flying can be I make exceptions.  Empty Nuby Cup- I fill it up with water after we get through security.

LARGE bag full of Cherrios- he munches on this off an on throughout the flight- helps pop his ears.  Pouches and spoon attachments- the spoon attachments are only used for food that he really dislikes-like squash-otherwise he just sucks those babies down.  On this flight he only ate Cheerios and the GoGoSqueeze- but I know I need options with his appetite.

My trusty JJ Cole diaper bag.  I lost my previous bag to the AZ Desert Heat last summer- seriously- cars get HOT!

Safety Seat Belt- see Mom Migraine Stopper Link Above

Swaddle Blanket- just to cuddle with.

The OH-SO-NECESSARY change of clothes.



Our flight left at 7AM so I actually had to wake up my sleeping boy and load him into the car.  Poor guy was really out of it and had a hard time waking up in the car.  My Husband was sweet enough to get a Gate Pass and assist us getting through security and to the gate on-time.  I have never been turned down when I have requested a Gate Pass from Southwest Airlines but I hear that it is common for other airlines to turn you down.  

So I felt like one lucky duck!

The Toddler was awake and running amok- like he should- in the airport to get all of the morning “sillies” out.  I was able to get a banana for the trip after we went through security that he happily scarfed down.

Traveling days are weird and I really need to prepare for everything when it comes to the Toddler’s meals.  

Together we went through the entire bag of Cheerios on the flight.  We munched on them during take-off and landing to help “pop” our ears.  Throughout the flight he consumed 8 ounces of whole milk and a couple sips of water. 

During choppy weather we shared two cups of ice.  He is teething-getting in the last of his back molars and ice makes him happy-which in turn makes me happy.

The GoGoSqueeze was sucked down after our trip to the restroom.  I went to the back of the plane-the changing tables on SW are in the front but my little man hasn’t fit on that since he was 8 months old.  SOOO when that familiar smell came about I made the executive decision to attempt a change in the back lavatory.  Well, it was a mess.  We survived.  The change of clothes was necessary. Enter the GoGoSqueeze.

We made it to Seattle by 11AM and Nana was waiting for us with snacks- I was famished- 8 1/2 months pregnant hauling a Toddler around will do that to you.

D fell asleep on the ride home from the airport and we decided to hit up my favorite place to eat when we are at home!

LUNCH:



YUM YUM YUM. Cheese quesadilla, beans, rice and apple juice.


The Toddler was exhausted and I knew for sure that he was going to bed super early because of the lack of a real nap- BUT- if he was going to sleep through the night he definitely had to have something to eat.  

DINNER:

Apple, Monterey Jack Cheese, White Chicken Chili and 6 ounces of water.


All-in-all we had a very successful travel day! I was really proud with how well he did on the plane.  We were so very lucky to be able to escape the heat for a bit together and visit family!  The Toddler even got to try one of our secret family recipes which apparently I need to start making on a weekly basis- TODDLER APPROVED.  

The Toddler was down and out by 5:30PM- a record for us!  So glad that even with all of our allergy hurdles, we can still have a healthy day of eats on the road!

Thanks for reading-and thank you Brittany for hosting!













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